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Cisco and Microsoft Partner on IoT Device Connectivity

Microsoft and Cisco are collaborating to provide an integrated Cisco-Edge-to-Microsoft-Azure Internet of Things (IoT) hub solution, the two companies announced this week. They're providing a "seamless integration," they said, to support IT and operations personnel charged with providing new edge computing capabilities for industrial IoT.

The collaboration will result in "an integrated Azure IoT solution that provides the necessary software, hardware, and cloud services businesses need to rapidly launch IoT initiatives and quickly realize business value," said Tony Shakib, IoT Business Acceleration Leader in Microsoft's Azure group, in a blog post.

"Using software-based intelligence pre-loaded onto Cisco IoT network devices," he added, "telemetry data pipelines from industry-standard protocols like OPC-Unified Architecture (OPC-UA) and Modbus can be easily established using a friendly UI directly into Azure IoT Hub."

With this arrangement, services such as Microsoft Azure Stream Analytics, Microsoft Azure Machine Learning, and Microsoft Azure Notification Hub services can be used to quickly build IoT apps for the enterprise, Shakib said. Additional telemetry processing is also supported by Cisco through local scripts developed in Microsoft Visual Studio, where filtered data can also be uploaded directly into the Azure IoT Hub.

"This collaboration provides customers with a fully integrated solution that will give access to powerful design tools, global connectivity, advance analytics, and cognitive services for analyzing IoT data," Shakib said.

"This partnership between Cisco and Azure IoT will significantly simplify customer deployments," said Vikas Butaney, VP of product management in Cisco's IoT group, in a statement. "Customers can now securely connect their assets, and simply ingest and send IoT data to the cloud. Our IoT Gateways will now be pre-integrated to take advantage of the latest in cloud technology from Azure."

The main idea is that Cisco's Edge Intelligence software, announced back in January, can connect with Microsoft's Azure IoT Hub service, as well as the Azure IoT Hub Device Provisioning Service. Cisco Edge Intelligence is used to extract and transform data for use with various cloud-based services. Cisco pre-integrates its solution with various IoT platforms to facilitate data sharing.
The Azure IoT Hub service, released four years ago, is used for bidirectional messaging between IoT applications and devices. It supports the multiple protocols used by IoT devices.

The IoT Hub Device Provisioning Service offers "zero-touch" provisioning for IoT devices, according to Microsoft. It validates devices, registers them with an IoT hub and adds "256-bit AES encryption" for data at rest.
Cisco's IoT Gateways are now pre-integrated to work with Azure cloud-based solutions, according to Vikas Butaney, Cisco's IoT vice president of product management.

The integration opens up access by IoT devices to various Azure services, such as Stream AnalyticsMachine Learning and Notification Hubs, which "can be used to quickly build IoT applications for the enterprise," Microsoft's announcement added.

About the Author

Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for 1105 Media's Converge360 group.

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